NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The teenager charged in a crash that killed a Metro Nashville police officer last summer testified during a hearing on Monday.
Jayona Brown faces several charges, including vehicular homicide, in the death of 28-year-old Officer John Anderson. Brown took the stand and read a letter to the Anderson family, apologizing for the crash. She asked for forgiveness, saying in part:
To the Anderson family, I want to take this time... I know nothing I say or do will ease the pain of you losing your loved one but I pray every night that your family will forgive me one day... I'm fortunate enough to get the help that I need... Become the best version of myself. I want you to know I take responsibility for my part I played in this tragic incident. When I left I had no intentions to hurt anyone. I pray I’m given the the opportunity... and may you find peace somehow.”
Brown told Judge Sheila Calloway that “I’ll do everything in my power to keep me out of trouble. I want to go to school. I want to go to college... I want to get close to my family. My intention is not to get into any more trouble.”
The prosecutor then listed Brown’s numerous write-ups in detention and her multiple charges.
Earlier in the hearing, Officer Brian Dugre testified that he tried to pull Brown over because of the vehicle’s high beams. He activated his lights two or three times but the vehicle sped away in excess of the 35-mph speed zone on Main Street in East Nashville.
Dugre said he stopped activating his lights and pursuing after learning the vehicle was not stolen. About a minute from losing sight of the Ford Fusion, he drove up to the crash involving Anderson at Woodland Street and Interstate Drive.
Officer Bradley Nave said he spoke with Brown at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and said her speech was somewhat slurred and was confused. She didn’t have memory of the crash but remembers driving the car.
He said she had bloodshot eyes and had trouble keeping her eyes open.
Nave said he got a warrant to conduct blood tests. He testified that she had 3.2 nanograms of THC and another active component. He said signs of impairment can continue but there are serious questions of calculating the use of marijuana and lasting effects.
Passenger Antona Esaw took the stand and said Brown was late picking her up because she was smoking marijuana with friends. They went to Brown’s house and caught up in the car.
During questioning, Esaw seemed to be having a hard time remembering events.
Esaw said the car they were in could not go over 80 mph. In a previous statement, she said Brown was going 80 mph. At one point, she told Brown to slow down and was told that she couldn’t because she didn’t have a driver’s license.
She suffered bleeding of the brain. She was at TriStar Skyline Medical Center for two to three days and was moved to Vanderbilt. She’s currently waiting to see a neurologist. She said she spoke to Brown, who has since apologized to her.
Brown was 17 years old at the time of her arrest. She has since turned 18 but will be held in juvenile jail and will be treated as a minor unless a judge decides otherwise. Judge Calloway will issue a ruling on the matter at a later date.
The Fraternal Order of Police released the following statement on the case:
“Regardless of the differing opinions in the criminal prosecution of Jayonna Brown, a driver who fled from police at a high rate of speed and hit Officer John Anderson’s vehicle, killing him, it is important that we all, as a community, respect the sacrifice made. Officer Anderson gave his life serving Nashville and Attorney Michie Gibson has attempted to make a mockery of that sacrifice both, today in court, and in the past with his reckless commentary. His comments are highly offensive to anyone who pins on the badge and he owes the entire law enforcement community an immediate apology for the reckless representation of his client. Mr. Gibson should focus his efforts on defending his client in the legal courts, not those of public opinion. If he is incapable of this, he should find a new profession.”